It alleges that Apple has constricted the market by not enabling iPods to play content in the Windows Media Audio (WMA) format, Microsoft’s copy-protection technology. Further, Apple sells songs on the iTunes store with its own copy-protection technology, FairPlay, which is incompatible with music players other than the iPod.
The suit contends iPod-owning consumers can only buy music from iTunes, an unlawful tie-in that violates U.S. antitrust laws. Apple could license the WMA format for as little as US$0.03 per iPod, or for a total of $800,000 based on Apple’s 2005 iPod sales, the suit reads.
This lawsuit was filed on December 31 and seems like an attention getting maneuver to me. I like the “for as little as US$0.03” figure. I wonder how high the figure can go.
That said, it’s just plain false that iPod users can only buy music from iTunes. Just yesterday, I bought some music from Amazon. There’s also eMusic. Oh yeah, and I hear that you can still buy those antiquated shiny plastic disks.
The RIAA seems to be having some big strategy problems. They’re allowing Amazon to sell DRM free tracks, but not allowing Apple to do the same… hoping that this will break Apple’s stranglehold on the player and distribution markets. It’s like they fundamentally don’t understand DRM. If they let Apple sell DRM free tracks, that will only hasten the ability for people to choose other music players. Apple sells millions of songs a day, most of which are currently locked to iPods only because that’s the way the RIAA is requiring them to do it.
In fact, the lawsuit from Stacie Somers of San Diego seems so silly that it makes me wonder if the RIAA put her up to it.
Update: The same day that I read about this lawsuit, we see the news that Sony BMG is dropping DRM for Amazon. That means that Amazon will have all four major labels (plus large numbers of indies, I’m sure) doing DRM free music.
Update 2: In a I-can’t-believe-they’re-that-dumb move, Sony BMG has apparently announced that you have to go to a store to buy their DRM free tracks. WTF?